northanger (northanger) wrote,

Three Wise Men

And there came a great tumult in Bethlehem of Judaea; for there came wise men, saying: Where is he that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east and are come to worship him.The Protovangelion


Biblical Magi

In Christian tradition the Magi, also known as the Three Wise Men or Kings from the east, are Zoroastrian judicial astrologers or magi who according to Matthew 2:1 came "from the east to Jerusalem", to worship the Infant Jesus, him "that is born King of the Jews". Thus the magi that came from the east, from the Persian Empire, were the world's first religious figures to worship him. Among their gifts were chrismatic herbs for anointing him the Christ. Their traditional names are Casper, Melchior and Balthazar.

The Gospel of Matthew is the only Scriptural source for the event. According to his account, the Magi first visited Herod (appointed as a vassel king of Judea by the Roman Empire), asking him where the new King could be found. Herod, showing his knowledge of local prophesy, sent them to Bethlehem, and asked that they return when they had found him (Matthew 2:1–Matthew 2:8). There, they appeared before the infant Jesus, noting that they observed his star—the Star of Bethlehem— rising in the east (other possible translation: his star in the ascendant), and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). The Magi were warned in a divine dream not to go back to Herod, and so returned to Persia by another route. This infuriated Herod and resulted in his massacre of the Holy Innocents (Matthew 2:12, and 16-18).
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In Herodotus the word magoi was held by aristocrats of the Median nation and specifically to Zoroastrian astronomer-priests. They were also known for slaying and enslaving demons. Since the passage in Matthew implies that they were observers of the stars, most conclude the intended meaning is "Zoroastrian priests", the addition "from the East" naturally referring to Persia. Indeed, Wycliffe's translation of the Gospel reads not "wise men" but "astrologers"; during the fourteenth century, "astrology" encompassed both astrology and astronomy.

Matthew's Gospel does not mention their exact number, but since three gifts were mentioned, they were thus often entitled the Three Wise Men or later Three Kings. Alternate traditions have as few as two and as many as twelve visiting Jesus.


We may form a conjecture by non-Biblical evidence of a probable meaning to the word magoi. Herodotus (I, ci) is our authority for supposing that the Magi were the sacred caste of the Medes. They provided priests for Persia, and, regardless of dynastic vicissitudes, ever kept up their dominating religious influence. To the head of this caste, Nergal Sharezar, Jeremias gives the title Rab-Mag, "Chief Magus" (Jeremiah 39:3, 39:13, in Hebrew original — Septuagint and Vulgate translations are erroneous here). After the downfall of Assyrian and Babylonian power, the religion of the Magi held sway in Persia. Cyrus completely conquered the sacred caste; his son Cambyses severely repressed it. The Magians revolted and set up Gaumata, their chief, as King of Persia under the name of Smerdis. He was, however, murdered (521 B.C.), and Darius became king. This downfall of the Magi was celebrated by a national Persian holiday called magophonia (Her., III, lxiii, lxxiii, lxxix). Still the religious influence of this priestly caste continued throughout the rule of the Achaemenian dynasty in Persia (Ctesias, "Persica", X-XV); and is not unlikely that at the time of the birth of Christ it was still flourishing under the Parthian dominion. Strabo (XI, ix, 3) says that the Magian priests formed one of the two councils of the Parthian Empire.


The Greek word 'Magoi'

the Magoi were a tribe of the Medes, to the west of the ancient Persians, and described at some length by Herodotus in Bk 1 of his Histories (1.140) as being a priestly caste with some distinctive religious practices that aren't necessarily if at all related to the Persian (who spoke an Indo-European language, Old Avestan, later Persian, ancestor of the modern Farsi still used in Iran) Zoroastrians. Says Kleine Pauly (translated): "Aristotle (or Antisthenes of Rhodes?) could explain in the lost treatise entitled MAGIKOS, that the Iranian Magi do not know Magic at all. But the general usage of the term (MAGOS) increasingly confounded the Iranian Magi with the conjurers and astrologers of the Chaldaeans. In the Hellenistic period, the early Greek predilection with the Orient became so great that one could do nothing better to lend weight to any magical or alchemical text than to ascribe to it the authority of Zoroaster or one or the other supposed Magi."
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What is pretty clear is that the term "Magos" was used in the Hellenistic world rather loosely for astrologers and magicians; Matthew or his source must have had in mind Chaldaean astrologers/astronomers (there was no distinction in the Hellenistic era drawn between astrology and astronomy).

Who would celebrate the Magophonia in Palestine

For those who are interested in the Magophonia (the real life "Slaughter of the Magoi" in Persia c. 521 BCE), one might ponder a very interesting question.
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For those willing to pursue two tracks of thinking at once, we know that the book of Esther explains to Jews the origins of the celebration of "Purim" (Lots). According to Esther, it was the sudden turn around of the fate of the Agagites that led to their being slaughtered INSTEAD OF THE JEWS.
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As we've seen in my recent posts, there is the possibility that the term "Agagite" is cognate with the term for "The Wise [Men]. Who were INDEED slaughtered in the Magophonia.

{6234} {26062} {26066} {Endgame II}

Old Iranian Calendars

The feast of Mithra or baga 78 was, no doubt, one of the most popular if not the greatest of all the festivals in ancient Iran, where it was celebrated with the greatest attention. This was originally a pre-Zoroastrian and old Aryan feast consecrated to the sun god, and its place in the Old-Persian calendar was surely in the month belonging to this deity. This month was called Bâgayâdi or Bâgayâdish and almost certainly corresponded to the seventh Babylonian month Tishrîtu, the patron of which was also Shamash, the Babylonian sun god. This month was, as has already been stated, probably the first month of the Old-Persian year, and its more or less fixed place was in the early part of the autumn. The feast was in all probability Old-Persian rather than Old- or Young-Avestan, and it was perhaps the survival of an earlier Iranian New Year festival dating from some prehistoric phase of the Aryo-Iranian calendar, when the year began at the autumnal equinox. It was connected with the worship of one of the oldest Aryan deities (Baga-Mithra), of whom traces are found as far back as in the fourteenth century BC. The fact that Mithra and similar ancient deities are not mentioned in the Gathas, that they are strangers to the original and pure religion of Zoroaster, that even probably they were considered by this religion as Daevas or demons, and that they were admitted into the Mazdayasnian religion only in later times as lesser divinities of the Iranian pantheon, their hymns having been incorporated into the "recent Avesta", might support this thesis. The month Bâgayâdi was certainly the month in which the feast of Baga usually or often fell. It was on the 10th day of this month in the year 522 BC that (according to the Behistun inscription, i, 55) the Magian usurper Gaumata was killed by Darius and his associates, and his illegitimate rule was overthrown. According to Herodotus, iii, 79-80 (Rawlinson translation, vol. 2, p. 393), this day was celebrated later each year as the feast of Magophonia or the day of slaughter of the Magi, on which day the Magians did not dare to show themselves abroad. He says that "the Persians observe this day with one accord, and keep it more strictly than any other in the whole year. It is then that they hold the great festival, which they call Magophonia", and he asserts that "this day is the greatest holy day that all Persians alike keep" (AD Godley's translation, vol. ii, pp. 103-4).

How Persia Created Judaism IV

The feast of Baga, originally a pre-Zoroastrian and old Aryan feast consecrated to the sun god, was a great and popular festival in ancient Iran. It was connected with the worship of the oldest Aryan deities, called by the compound Bagamithra, who were noted as far back as the fourteenth century BC. Baga was identified in the Rig Veda as Varuna, the twin of Mithras, so Bagamithra mean the two gods, but the Iranians came to see Mithras as the Baga, as if Bagamithra stood for Mithras with the title Baga. The festival’s place in the calendar must have been the month dedicated to Baga, and later to Mithras. It was called “Bagayadi” or “Bagayadish” and corresponded to the Babylonian month Tishritu, the patron of which was Shamash the Babylonian sun god, who according to Stuart Jones, is identified with Mithras on a tablet in the library of Assurbanipal. This month might have been that of the earlier Iranian New Year festival, when the year began at the autumnal equinox. So, “Bagayadi”, the same month as the later “Mithrakana” and the modern “mihragan” or “mihrjan”, was the feast of Baga, originally the autumnal equinox. The feast of Baga seems to have been celebrated for five days, and Herodotus’ story of five days’ uproar after the Magi of Smerdis were killed, suggests it.

Smerdis of Persia

Smerdis (d. 521 BC) was a Persian king of infamous memory. The prevalent Greek form Smerdis has assimilated the Persian name to the Greek (Asiatic) name Smerdis or Smerdies, which occurs in the poems of Alcaeus and Anacreon .... Smerdis was the younger son of Cyrus the Great who, according to Ctesias, on his deathbed appointed him governor of the eastern provinces (cf. Xen. Cyrop. vin. 7, if). According to both Herodotus and his successor Darius (in the Behistun Inscription), Cambyses II, before he set out to Egypt, secretly caused his brother to be murdered, being afraid that he might attempt a rebellion during his absence. His death was not known to the people, and so in the spring of 522 a usurper pretended to be Smerdis and proclaimed himself king on a mountain near the Persian town Pishiyauv~da.

The real name of the usurper was, Darius tells us, Gaumata, a Magian priest from Media; this name has been preserved by Justin i. 9 (from Charon of Lampsacus?), but given to his brother (called by Herodotus Patizeithes), who is said to have been the real promoter of the intrigue; the true name of the usurper is here given as Oropastes; by Ctesias as Sphendadates. The history of the false Smerdis is narrated by Herodotus and Ctesias according to official traditions; Cambyses before his death confessed to the murder of his brother, and in public explained the whole fraud.
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His death was annually celebrated in Persia by a feast called “the killing of the magian," at which no magian was allowed to show himself (Herod. ~ 79 Ctes. Pers. 15).



Purim ("Lots") ... Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Persian Jews from the plot of the evil Haman to exterminate them, as recorded in the biblical Book of Esther. According to that book, the feast was instituted as a national one by the book's protagonists, Mordechai and Esther. Purim is celebrated annually on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar.


Haman is the villain in the Book of Esther. He is described as the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, presumably indicating his descent from Agag, king of Amalek. In the story, Haman and his wife Zeresh instigate a plot to kill all the Jews of ancient Persia. Haman attempts to convince Ahasuerus to order the killing of Mordechai and all the Jews of the lands he ruled. The plot is foiled by Queen Esther, the king's recent wife, who is herself a Jew. Haman and his 10 sons are hanged from the gallows that had originally been built to hang Mordechai.


Agag - flame, the usual title of the Amalekite kings, as "Pharaoh" was of the Egyptian. (1.) A king of the Amalekites referred to by Balaam (Num. 24:7). He lived at the time of the Exodus.

Magic with Tears

Some historians place the first mention of the Magi with Heraclitus of Ephesus (the chronographer Apollodorus suggests Heraclitus was around forty years of age c. 504-501 BCE). However, the origin for this citation is Titus Flavius Clemens (aka St. Clement of Alexandria) who died around 215 CE, some seven hundred years after Heraclitus. In Clement’s Protreptikos pros Ellenas ("Hortatory Discourse to the Greeks"), Heraclitus associates the Magi with fire. Although secondary sources indicate Heraclitus wrote about fire in a cosmic sense, there is no direct evidence Heraclitus was actually concerned with or knew of the Magi. Indeed, many regard Heraclitus as an outsider, an intentionally obsure and misanthropic loner. It’s easier to imagine the connection as a product of Clement’s imagination.
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According to the unknown sources used by these authors (and Clement), with Heraclitus we find the elements of Magi, fire and spices revealing aspects of God, and fire as stars.
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What exactly made crucifixion so terrible? The three supreme Roman penalties were the cross, fire, and the beasts. What made them supreme was not just their inhuman cruelty or their public dishonor, but the fact that there might be nothing left to bury at the end....No wonder we have found only one body from all those thousands crucified around Jerusalem in that single century. Remember those dogs. And if you seek the heart of darkness, follow the dogs.
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Fire was held in great esteem by the Medes and they worshiped the Indo-Aryan pantheon of gods, i.e., Mithra, Varuna, Indra, etc. The Medes were renowned horsemen and charioteers, as well as fierce warriors. By the time of their first mention in ninth century BCE Assyrian cuneiform texts, the Median empire encompassed eastern Turkey, northern Iraq and western Iran. In the seventh century BCE the Indo-Aryan (Iranian) Medes joined forces with a southern Iraqi (Semitic) people, the Chaldeans, and overthrew Assyria. The term 'magi' undoubtedly existed at this time and was in use by the Medians, but it’s exact meaning remains unknown.

The Mill of Time: Celestial Cycles And Ancient Mythological Science

It is ultimately the purpose of this article to provide a solution to the long-standing mystery of the "Star of Bethlehem" and, in a closely-related problem, to announce the date of the beginning of the New Age, the Age of Aquarius, as determined by a method believed to be the same one used by the ancient Magi of Chaldea and other astronomical priesthoods in very early times. These topics will indeed be covered in the second part of this report.

Thou art a boy more lovely than a star. — The Jasmine-Jar; Bagh-I-Muattar


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